Thanks for explaining, and for explaining to me what 'design' is.
You know, sometimes when people disagree with one, it doesn't mean that
the other person didn't understand. It can sometimes mean that the other
person simply disagrees (or that one is wrong).
I have just been enjoying an essay by one of my students. She was writing
about comic timing and quoted from Edward de Bono's "I am Right - You Are
"The significance of humour is precisely that it indicates
pattern-forming, pattern asymmetry and pattern switching Š Creativity and
lateral thinking have exactly the same basis as humour." I am interested
to hear that computers can now deliver these fundamental aspects of what
it means to be human. Perhaps you could give some examples?
De Bono wrote interestingly about the difference between passive
information systems (computers) and Š us. I found myself thinking of your
message, and what I infer (perhaps wrongly again) as a belief that there
is a finite number of design solutions out there for every context and
your championing the desirability of using computers to simply whizz
through them and select the best of them off the shelf.
I was particularly interested to hear you explain to me about the design
of a book jacket. Have you ever designed a book jacket, Terry? I have
designed many (lots of them probably not very good, admittedly). You say:
"The total combination of possibilities of different options for any single
design quickly runs into the millions or billions. Think for example of all
the different combinations of possibilities of pantone colours, shapes,
fonts, images, positions, sizes, finishes, for example in the design of a
Designers have several strategies for avoiding being swamped by these
millions of possibilities."
One of the first 'strategies' involved in designing a book jacket is to
read and understand the text. The good designer will engage with the
spirit of that text, it's humour, emotion, pathos, mood and so on, and
try to design something that captures that spirit through the designer's
own unique vision. The millions of combinations of pantone colours, type
styles and sundry other minor mechanical matters do not amount to a
particularly significant aspect of this process. I think this minor
element is perhaps what you are confusing with 'the full solution space'?
"Its benefit, however, is that it reveals more creative and innovative
solutions than are found by human designers using the design methods and
creative techniques that they have learned."
It would certainly reveal infinitely more permutations of pantone colours
and marks but could you expand on this? Are you saying that computers are
capable of being creative and innovative in e.g. Interpreting and visually
responding to text?
It's interesting that this discussion runs parallel with that titled
"Another part of theory of usability" in which there seem to be two
strands of conviction:
1. "Why are our brilliant designs wasted on the great unwashed,
superstitious, ignorant public?"
2. "Why are those autistic designers incapable of designing for we human
This kind of outmoded thinking is exactly what de Bono was talking about
20 years ago.
I think we could do worse than look again at de Bono who realised that
mechanical approaches may have served us well in science and technology
but not in human affairs (e.g. Design) and that new thinking "based
directly on how the human brain works, and, in particular, the way the
human brain creates perception" is needed here.
Good design is all about empathyŠ isn't it?
Professor Martin Salisbury
Director, The Centre for Children's Book studies
Course Leader, MA Children's Book Illustration
0845 196 2351
On 06/06/2012 13:48, "Terence Love" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>My apologies if I didn't explain things very well. The picture I was
>presenting is quite different from what you inferred. I'll try again.
>Designers have to make many many decisions on different aspects and
>of any single design. Each of those decisions involves choices between
>The total combination of possibilities of different options for any single
>design quickly runs into the millions or billions. Think for example of
>the different combinations of possibilities of pantone colours, shapes,
>fonts, images, positions, sizes, finishes, for example in the design of a
>Designers have several strategies for avoiding being swamped by these
>millions of possibilities.
>Designers use particular methods such as grids, colour combinations
>(complementary, analogous etc), information hierarchies and learn to draw
>particular generic visual structures, design guidelines, historical
>genres, personal and many other learned visual patterns and methods. This
>enables them to make the design activity manageable by reducing billions
>decision and combinations (many of which would not work) to a framework
>that they can feel free to creatively choose what they feel is the most
>A similar process is used for most designed outcomes in Art and Design
>The process of making the design manageable, however, limits the design
>solutions considered (if that were not true, then one wouldn't expect the
>possibility of 'new'or 'breakthrough' designs - which are typically found
>If instead ,one were to take the whole field of the billions of
>of different decisions and options for each decision, one would have the
>whole potential 'solution space' for the intended design.
>This contains every possible innovation and every possible creative
>- including the ones that designers do not/cannot think of because they
>the methods, knowlwedge and skills of design practice that e they have
>The full solution space can then be analysed in many ways - usually using
>mathematically defined representations of design criteria.
>An interesting option is to select and remove from the solution space the
>solutions defined by the methods and knowledge that a human designer would
>This makes visible those innovative and creative design solutions that
>human designers would not have thought of.
>The solutions space analysis approach is difficult and time consuming.
>Its benefit, however, is that it reveals more creative and innovative
>solutions than are found by human designers using the design methods and
>creative techniques that they have learned.
>Dr Terence Love FDRS, AMIMechE, PMACM, MISI
>[log in to unmask] Mob: +61 434 975 848
>Dept of Design
>Curtin University, Western Australia
>Researcher, Social Program Evaluation Research Unit
>Dept of Psychology and Social Sciences
>Edith Cowan University, Western Australia
>Honorary Fellow, Institute of Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development
>Management School, Lancaster University, UK
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